COVID-19 outbreak forces decision
Sportsbook holding company Flutter Entertainment plc has scrapped its final cash dividend payout of €112.7m ($124.2m) as it looks to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its business.
sports betting revenues wiped out due to widespread cancellations of sports events
The owner of Paddy Power, Betfair, and FanDuel wants to conserve funds as it sees its sports betting revenues wiped out due to widespread cancellations of sports events.
With a planned merger with The Stars Group Inc. on the horizon, the company wants to keep its financials in good order. A profit warning issued by Flutter last week also projects a higher debt burden than it previously envisaged.
Shareholders to receive additional shares
Flutter announced that while it will scrap the 2019 final dividend payout, shareholders will be given additional shares instead of cash payment. There will also be no dividend payment for Flutter shareholders in 2020 before the merger has been completed.
no dividend payment for Flutter shareholders in 2020 before the merger
Other gambling firms, such as Playtech and William Hill, have also suspended dividend payments amid the ongoing crisis.
Debt burden revisions
The merged company was planning on having a debt burden that was x3.5 earnings, not including synergies. However, Flutter now projects that this will probably be a higher figure.
The sportsbook holding company expressed its view in a prospectus and circular it published to give investors an update on the deal’s progress. It said it is still planning to lower its leverage to one or two times earnings over the medium term.
Merger going ahead
Despite the ongoing uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, Flutter CEO Peter Jackson is “more convinced than ever” that the merger will be going ahead.
He said the additional diversification and synergies that will result from the joining of forces with The Stars Group will be optimal. The Canadian gaming and online gambling company has the biggest online poker platform in the world, which is believed will help mitigate the impact on sports betting revenues.
Hope for the future
The disruptions from the ongoing pandemic are expected to negatively affect the combined group’s financial profile for the current fiscal year. However, long-term damage is not expected.
If the deal goes ahead, it will create the world’s biggest online gambling group, worth more than £10bn ($12.23bn). Flutter shareholders will have a stake of about 54.64% in the new company, which will set up its listed on the London Stock Exchange. No official name for the combined group has been announced to date.